After an eventful start to the 2012-2013 season, UVA concluded their non-conference schedule with a bang, defeating the Wofford Terriers 74-39. With the win, the Hoos head into ACC play at 10-3. Here are some stats and rankings, followed by some thoughts on how the team navigated the start of its schedule, particularly in relation to its NCAA hopes.
Record against CAA teams: 0-3
Record against non-CAA teams: 10-0
KenPom Ranking: #25
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.1, #76 in nation (compared to 102.9, #132 in 2011-2012)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 87.1, #16 in nation (compared to 87.7 #6 in 2011-2012)
SOS (KenPom): #296
Before the season, I took a look at what the Hoos could expect from their opponents in out-of-conference play.
On the plus side, the Hoos took advantage of their two opportunities to pick up good wins against strong power conference competition. UVA smothered Tennessee 46-38 and, even more impressively, shocked Wisconsin 60-54 on the road on national TV in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. If Tony Bennett's team hears its name called on Selection Sunday, the win in the Kohl Center will likely have much to do with it, especially considering the NCAA Committee's love affair with road OOC wins.
However, Virginia did suffer three losses, two of them particularly damaging. Falling 63-59 at George Mason, a road game against respectable competition in an opener in which UVA lacked its top 3 point guards on the depth chart, was forgivable. Losing 63-61 against a now 2-11 ODU team was not; the team's weak overall schedule left little room for error, and this error is a glaring one that could very well come back to haunt Wahoo fans.
That thin margin of error was exacerbated by UVA's 59-53 loss to Delaware. Alone, falling to a top-tier CAA squad early in the year would not be too harmul. However, because the game was part of the NIT Season Tip-Off, it cost the team a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on Kansas State and either Pittsburgh or Michigan. Thus, the loss was a large direct hit to the team's RPI, and its NCAA hopes along with it.
Overall, it's difficult to be too disappointed in the start to the 2012-2013 season. The Hoos were largely without their senior point guard, Jontel Evans, forced to redshirt Malcolm Brogdon, and started 5 different first-years. Despite these inhibiting factors, the team is 10-3 and have a huge win in Madison under their belts.
Still, Wahoo fans should be concerned that this seemingly impressive start will not be enough. The team played a weak OOC schedule, have a relatively weak ACC schedule, and have picked two very poor times to bring less than 100% effort in damaging losses. Considering these scheduling issues, it will likely require 11-12 ACC wins (remember, the number of conference games increased from 16 to 18 this year) to merit a second straight year in the NCAA Tournament.
The first part of Virginia's season was about as successful as fans could have hoped. With inexperienced teams like this one, fans must expect the unexpected. The Hoos are not as good as the squad that beat Wisconsin and they are surely not as bad as the one that lost to Old Dominion. The team has 18 more regular season games in which to show how good it really is; that starts this Sunday at 8PM when North Carolina comes to town.